Whether you've always dreamed of giving your dog Snoopy's dog house or just want something to shelter your pet when your family hangs out outside, building a dog house can be a very fun, rewarding and useful project. If you aren't the handiest handyman, don't fret. You can get as complex as building your own dog house from scratch with your own plans that you drew up yourself, but there are much easier routes. You can find blueprints and plans online, customize your own house or buy a kit that requires little more than your own hammer and screwdriver.
It doesn't matter if you need a palace for your two canines or a simple structure for your pooch. Plans and kits come in a variety of styles and options to fit your dog, your style and your backyard. You can do it yourself with lumber you cut for less than $70. Or, if you want a preassembled luxury home built to order based on your specifications for furnishings, lighting, heating and cooling, you might spend more like $7,000 [source: Doggy Dream Homes].
In this article, you'll learn how dog house kits work, as well as how to build your own dog house. You'll also discover what materials to use based on your dog, design and area's climate. Lastly, this article will make you aware of some safety concerns to consider, both for you and for your best four-legged friend when constructing a dog house.
When building a dog house, remember that it is not the be-all-end-all for your pup. Having a shelter does not necessarily mean shade -- depending on the materials used, a dog can overheat even more quickly in a dog house than out in your yard. And no matter how nice the doghouse, it's not a suitable round-the-clock home for a pet.
To get started, let's first explore dog house kits, the easiest option for building a dog house.
Dog House Kits
You want your dog to have a nice house. Maybe you even want Fido or Brownie to have a doggie chalet or a doggie mansion. But let's face it -- if you're not the best carpenter, building one from scratch might be more than you want to take on. If this is the case, a dog house kit might be perfect for you.
Dog house kits start at around $100. When assembling one, you shouldn't need much beyond a hammer or screwdriver. Most kits include the floor, walls and roof, completely pre-drilled with instructions [source: Kit Guy]. It should also include the nails and other assorted hardware, though depending on the kit you may need to purchase insulation, paint, and a pad, pillow or mat for your dog to lie on.
When selecting a dog house, your biggest consideration -- even beyond the pros and cons of housing your pup in a barn versus a bungalow -- is the size. If you love a style for your German shepherd's house but can only find it in small and medium, look for a bigger model. Similar to a dog crate, your dog house should be large enough for your pet to get in fully, turn around, and lie down. By the same token, however, it shouldn't be too big. Pets aren't like people -- a Chihuahua won't appreciate all the space of an extra-large dog mansion. In that case, a small dog kit will do fine.
If you are more interested in infusing your own personal style, keep reading for custom dog houses.
Custom Dog Houses
Custom dog houses are very useful if you have particular pet needs -- for example, if you want a duplex because you've got two dogs -- or if you don't want your pooch to have just another doggie McMansion.
If you are looking for a unique dog house, you can always build one yourself from scratch. Of course, this type of building requires the most work -- you have to know carpentry in order to draw up plans, select all of the building materials, cut them to fit and then assemble the entire thing. It's the most work, but then you can be sure no one has a dog house quite like yours. You can also contract personal builders who will build a dog house to your specifications.
Most custom dog houses, however, actually work similarly to the dog kits discussed on the previous page. In general, you can select and slightly modify the design you like based on what the company has. You can then choose from different options to create a customized exterior [source: America's Pet Store]. Sometimes they can even match your own house. Custom houses such as these will usually come ready to assemble, with all of the cut materials and hardware provided. The higher-end custom dog houses can come already assembled, delivered to you via truck.
If you're starting from scratch or using a custom kit that allows you to choose your materials, you'll want to know exactly what works and what doesn't. "Lightweight" can sound good, but it might not be sturdy enough to hold up to your dog, especially if it is a chewer. Read on to discover the ins and outs of dog house materials.
Choosing Dog House Materials
You can use just about any material to make a dog house, but some will work better depending on your climate and your dog's temperament. The most common materials for dog houses are either wood or plastic.
Wood is generally used the most, and you'll find most instructions use lumber in their examples. This is because wood is inexpensive and pretty easy to work with. Who hasn't made a simple wooden birdhouse or napkin holder? Wood is also easier to cut and can be used in the most climates. Cedar dog houses are best in areas that are wetter with high humidity [source: Wright].
Plastic can be a great alternative if you're looking for something lightweight and waterproof -- a huge advantage for an outside home. Plastic also cannot be destroyed by termites like wood can, but in both plastic and wood, select a sturdy material if your dog is a chewer.
Depending on where you live and what kind of materials you are using, you may also need to include insulation for your dog house. This is important not only in cold areas but also in hot ones -- insulation can keep your dogs from overheating. You can buy barriers and layers of insulation to use in the dog house or use pre-insulated panels [source: House of Hammocks].
When building a dog house, there are safety concerns for both you and your pup. Continue reading to discover what you need to know before building.
Safety Concerns When Building a Dog House
There are two main areas of safety concerns when building a dog house -- those relating to humans and those relating dogs. People should take the same precautions they would with any building project, including wearing gloves and eye protection when necessary.
In respect to dogs, there are a few more safety concerns. The first concern is the size -- a too-small house can hurt your pet's health. You also need to make sure you use proper materials and insulate if necessary, as discussed on the previous page. Dog houses can't do much to keep out the cold in frigid temperatures, and overheated structures can be just as dangerous.
Be sure you've properly constructed the house with durable materials to be confident that it can withstand your canine companion. Use untreated or nontoxic lumber and finishes to ensure the safest materials for your pet, especially if it likes to chew. Some treated lumber contains toxins that could harm your pet, especially if ingested [source: Build Easy]. And when completing your dog house, be sure to put the nails in properly -- you don't want the points sticking out and stabbing your pup [source: Lowe's].
Lastly, even if it's a pet palace, a dog house isn't as climate-controlled as a typical home, and it doesn't replace playtime with your pet's human companions.
For more information, visit the links on the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Alive. "CCA-Treated Wood Claims Puppy Casualty." (Accessed 3/3/09) http://www.alive.com/5306a16a2.php?subject_bread_cramb=167
- America's Pet Store. "Custom Dog Houses." (Accessed 3/3/09)http://www.americas-pet-store.com/details/prodid/1502.html
- B4 U Build. "Dog Houses, Dog House Kits, Dog House Plans & Related Books." (Accessed 3/3/09)http://www.b4ubuild.com/shop/dog_houses.shtml
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- Prager, Joseph. "Treated Wood's Legacy: A Trail of Tears." BANCCA. (Accessed 3/3/09) http://www.bancca.org/CCA_Victims/CCA_victims.htm
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- Wright, Moses. "Dog House Material - How to Choose the Right One For Fido." Ezine Articles. (Accessed 3/3/09)http://ezinearticles.com/?Dog-House-Material-%E2%80%93-How-To-Choose-the-Right-One-For-Fido&id=432112